Wed Jan 18 12:07:19 SAST 2017

Swellendam 'not functioning'

By Moses Mackay | 2012-04-25 09:43:16.0 | COMMENTS [ 1 ]

THE Western Cape local government has admitted that Swellendam municipality has not been able to take council decisions because a member of the ACDP has been expelled by his party.

Swellendam is controlled by a single-seat majority consisting of four DA councillors and the ACDP councillor and deputy mayor Julian Matthysen. The ANC also has four councillors.

On Monday, ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile claimed the Swellendam council had not been functioning since February because it could not raise a quorum.

Mjongile said: "The financial controls of the council have collapsed and no reconciliation has been done since 2007."

He also alleged there was fraud and theft of about R1.1-million by cashiers. He added that the situation had resulted in the council being investigated by the Special Investigation Unit (Hawks).

Tania Colyn of the provincial department of local government confirmed that a quorum for decision making was frustrated on numerous occasions since last month.

"Four members of the ANC arrived for council meetings, took part in preliminary discussions, but left the meeting without the speaker's permission, rendering the meetings not quorate," she said. This brought about a situation where the two remaining parties had an equal number of seats and could be described as a hung municipality.

Due to a quorum not being attained at a number of consecutive meetings, critical matters such as the approval of the adjustment budget could not be finalised.

Colyn denied the council was not functioning and that they were not rendering services to people.

"The situation has now changed in that the ACDP member was reinstated to his position by way of a court order following a settlement between the member and ACDP.

Colyn said a quorum for decision making was now possible.

She claimed the financial reconciliations (based on several unreconciled items for the period from July 2007 to June 2011) was incorrect. The situation has since been corrected, she said.

Colyn also confirmed two cases of fraud were under investigation. "The fraud charges relate to building plan fees and monies unaccounted for by cashiers. The Hawks are also investigating two cases of alleged irregular expenditure in terms of supply chain management processes. This relates to the period 2008 and 2009."


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The Swellendam Municipality has had an active administration and functioning Mayoral Committee notwithstanding the absense of the ACDP's councillor, whose absense was only due to the fact that he was suspended. While the administration faces several important challenges that need to be addressed urgently, the origin, continued existence and worsening/deepening of these challenges cannot be blamed, even indirectly, on the ACDP or the disciplinary process we had to pursue relating to our single councillor in that municipality.

The articles opening statement that "... the Swellendam municipality has not been able to take council decisions because a member of the ACDP has been expelled by his party" is factually wrong for two reasons:
(1) The absense of the ACDP's councillor, as unfortunate yet necessary as it was, did not cause the lack of quorum for council meetings. Instead, the ANC councillors walking out of successive council meetings has caused the lack of quorum and rendered council non-functional to the extent that it has not been able to adopt an adjustment budget for FY 2011/12 or a draft budget for FY 2012/13 amonst various others.
(2) During the disciplinary process and the ensuing High Court challenge, our councillor was never actually expelled. Had he been expelled, a vacancy would have been created by the ACDP, the MM would have legitimately been able to declare a vacancy and the IEC together with the ACDP would have proceeded to fill the vacancy with another candidate. That our Julian Matthysen remains a councillor and the Deputy Mayor, confirms this.

While the ANC's provincial secretary is correct in various of his assertions, these too cannot be blamed on the ACDP especially since they date back several years - the majority of this time the ACDP did not co-govern this municipality.

Ms. Colyn's statement, if accurately presented in the subject article, that a quorum for decision making was now possible only since that the ACDP councillor is reinstated, only tells half the story. Indeed, all 9 councillors are responsible for the quorum and while the ACDP's councillor was suspended, the other 8 councillors should have been present and getting on with the business of governing and delivering services to all of Swellendams communities. Asking Mr. Mjongile where the 4 ANC councillors were, why they disrupted council meetings in the way they did thus repeatedly rendering the council ineffective, are legitimate questions.

I repeat:
The Swellendam municipality faces a host of very important challenges which must be dealt with urgently in order to bring stability and certainty within the administration, to roll out service delivery into the new financial year and address the developmental backlogs many communities face. Not only must council urgently address and resolve, inter alia, all the finance-related challenges highlighted by the Auditor-General including irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, resolve supply chain management issues and fill critical finance department vacancies, but council must urgently finalise its draft budget for the financial year ahead and finalise crucial contract appointments of all four Directors and the Municipal Manager. It must also work with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) declared by the State President and other forensic investigations into fraud and corruption allegations.

Certainly, the ACDP remains committed to working with all political, administrative and civil society role-players towards substantial improvements in all areas of concern. In this regard, we agree with and echo the ANC's appeal, made yesterday during the NCOP visit, that the DA should pursue meaningful and cooperative consultation with all 9 councillors, all of whom have capacity that must be harnessed towards bringing stability within council, passing the budget and securing senior contract appointments for the medium term, in order that all Swellendam communities may benefit from efficient service delivery.

Our appeal to the ANC and the DA is to make the rate-payers King rather than narrow political interests. This is the only sustainable solution to the substantial challenges affecting all of Swellendam municipalities people.

- Grant Haskins, MPL

2012-04-29 23:34:45.0 | 0 replies